The Art Gear Guide  

The Art Gear Guide is your one stop shop for the most recent, up to date, honest reviews on all your favourite art supply products. 


Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Review

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Review

Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencil Review

I have to look at this review in a slightly different way to the vast majority of my other reviews, I really don't think there is anything I can say about the Prismacolor Premier pencils that hasn't already been said by many fine colored pencil artists. So I am going to try my best and offer a different perspective and try to put to bed any issues surrounding Prismacolor over the past few years or so. 

My Prismacolor Experience 

Over the past year or so I have been pretty critical of Prismacolor Premier pencils and this is the reason why. When I first got into colored pencils, the vast majority of the YouTube videos about spoke mainly of Prismacolor and so they were the pencils I wanted to get. 

My first set was a 72 set, which at the time was the first time in my life that I had spent more than £5 of any type of art supplies. I was so excited when I first opened the set and seen all the amazing colors, I had never seen anything like it before. As you all know, when you get your first set of colored pencils, they are all blunt and need sharpened, so I got right on to sharpening my new Prismacolor pencils. 

Prismacolor 72 Set

The very first pencil I sharpened kept breaking and I had to stop sharpening as half the pencil had gone before so much as making a mark with it. The same thing happened to the next pencil and the next and the next and on it went. Of the 72 set, approximately ten of them sharpened without breaking, needless to say I was devastated. 

To begin with I put this all down to shipping, perhaps the pencils had been knocked about during transit and the cores had been shattered. A while later I purchased a second 72 set, hoping that I was right about the first set and that it was just one of those things; unfortunately this was not the case and the second set was a little bit better than the first but not by much.

Moving Forward With Prismacolor

I have been reviewing pencils for a year or two now and so I decided that after all I have learnt regarding looking after colored pencils, using the right sharpeners, the correct paper etc, I would come back to Prismacolor and give them one final go. I can't say another review as I have never actually reviewed Prismacolor Premier on The Art Gear Guide or my YouTube Channel 

However, before taking a fresh look at an old and well respected colored pencil, lets look over some of the more traditional aspects of colored pencil reviews.

Prismacolor Sets

Perhaps one of the most attractive things about Prismacolor Premier colored pencils right now is the the amazing price they are being sold for. Long before I became involved in colored pencils, Prismacolor Premier pencils were very much the preferred pencil of choice for colored pencil artists in America, but back in Prismacolor's hay day they were considerably more pricy than we can get them now. 

The sets currently available are a set of 12, a 24 set, a 36 set, 48 set, the awesome 72 set, 132 set and most recently included is the outstanding 150 set. In 2011 Prismacolor bumped their 132 set up to 150 with a few additional colors along with one or two colors previously dropped but requested back by popular demand. 

Heres were the serious temptation comes into play, even if you know that pencils are going to break, barrels are going to be shattered and cores simply drop out from the centre. Here in the UK for 72 Prismacolor Premier pencils you will pay only £32 and for the same set in the US $24. When you go to the top of the line and get the 150 set which is the set I purchased, again in the UK it will cost £88 and in the US $79, which no matter which way you cut it, for 150 colored pencils these are attractive prices. 

Prismacolor Characteristics

As always I have made a YouTube video for you where I complete my testing without all this information, however I have added it here just incase there are those of you perhaps new to Prismacolor. I did it this way simply because so many people have reviewed Prismacolor and their issues have been well documented and debated. 

The pencil itself sports a round barrel and a relatively slim barrel at that, 7mm barrel and a 3..8mm core. The core consists of the softest wax, giving Prismacolor that incredibly renowned creamy buttery lay down that we all love so much about the pencils and the seamless blending. 

Along the barrel is printed in silver print, "Prismacolor" followed by the pencil brand which is "Premier". After this is the color name in English and then the color is printed in a second language. Finally toward the very end of the pencil is a number prefixed with the letters PC, this is simply for open stock reference should you wish to purchase pencils in this style. 

My Own Prismacolor Test 

As I have already mentioned, I wanted to try an create a test that would help people and also be a little bit different from all the other reviews on Prismacolor. The vast majority of the problems debated about these pencils is the constant breakage and that is what I hope to address here. 

It is vital that no matter what pencil you use, but especially soft wax based pencils, that you use a sharp sharpener. I know this may sound daft, but how many of you actually change the blades in your sharpeners? Using a blunt sharpener is only going to snag on the wood or the core and create problems, we will look at the four sharpeners I used in this test soon. 

Before I started the testing I checked every single pencil barrel for splits and crack and much to my surprise there was not a single damaged barrel out of 150 pencils. Next I checked the pencil cores. A major contributing factor to pencil breakage is if the pencil cores and not central in the barrel, this has been a major complaint from many Prismacolor users over the years. There were quite a few off centre but nothing too drastic.

I did see a few were the cores looked like they had not been filled in the barrel correctly, almost as if air bubbles got into the drying process. I have no idea whether or not this affects the performance of the pencil however, take a look for yourself and see what I mean and if you have experienced a similar issue. 

Sharpeners Used 

As I have mentioned, the sharpener is vital, it doesn't have to be the most expensive sharpener in the world but it does need to be very sharp. Have you ever tried to cut a nice ripe tomato with a blunt knife? if you have you will know that you end up with a pulp of mess, this is the same for pencil sharpening. The four sharpeners I have used in this test are the Brass M&R handheld, a German made sharpener, the KUM handheld sharpener, the Derwent Superpoint Hand Crank and another M&R Hand Crank Sharpener. 

M&R Brass Hand Held Sharpener

M&R Brass Handheld Sharpener 

M&R Brass Handheld Sharpener

In my opinion the hand crank sharpeners are the best because the pencil is kept completely still, teeth in the hand crank sharpener grab hold of the pencil and keep it in place while the blade rotates around the pencil. When we use a handheld sharpener, the pencil is twisted and the blade is kept still, it is this twisting action, combined with the off centred core that causes pressure on the core, causing it to snap. 

Derwent Superpoint Hand Crank Sharpener

Derwent Superpoint Hand Crank Sharpener

Derwent Superpoint Hand Crank Sharpener

To best see this demonstration check out the YouTube video, however I have also added images below, showing the results from each of the sharpeners. 


On this occasion I did not of course sharpen all 150 pencils, however I picked a random selection from the trays. I was so happy with the results, 100% better than my experience with both 72 sets I had purchased in the past. So was it me that was causing the problems? was it my lack of experience that caused all those pencils to break? I have to say that I think it has played a major part in the results. 

I can think of nothing else other than my inexperience during the first two sets when I was very new to colored pencil art. On this occasion I knew to have a good sharp pencil sharpener, I knew to protect my pencils and ensure that non of them had been dropped or knocked and I knew to take my time with the hand held sharpeners and not rush through it otherwise accentuating the twisting motion.

I am really pleased that I gave Prismacolor another go and I really hope that this test has helped you. Thank you so much for your support. 




Scorpion Colored Pencils & Giveaway

Scorpion Colored Pencils & Giveaway

Staedtler Ergosoft

Staedtler Ergosoft